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Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality Paperback – March 8, 1989
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From Publishers Weekly
Demonstrating the fecundity of current feminist theological scholarship, this searching companion volume to Womanspirit Rising includes many minority voices, enlarging the critique of the sexism of traditional religion by linking patriarchy to other forms of oppression. Seeking empowerment by recovering the history of women, E. Ann Matter discusses lesbians in the religious communities of medieval Christian Europe; Paula Gunn Allen suggests that female supreme spirits of Native American culture were identified primarily by their intellectual, not procreative, prowess; and Gloria Anzaldua finds that the history of the Mesoamerican goddesses has been suppressed by both Spanish Christianity and the militaristic and patriarchal Aztecs. In a notably incisive essay, Marcia Falk proposes a feminist-Jewish reconstruction of prayer; more controversial but nonetheless intriguing are excursions beyond "established" religions: Luisah Teish, "an initiated priestess" in the Yoruba-Lucumi spiritual tradition of West Africa, offers directions on how to build an "all-purpose" altar to communicate with one's ancestors, and Karen McCarthy Brown demonstrates how women's leadership has shaped contemporary Haitian Vodou.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Puts forth a feminist spiritual vision that is large and diverse, one that can encompass the depths and complexity fo women's lives and traditions."--Margot Adler, author of "Drawing Down the Moon"
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Women can, and will, throw aside the veils of the misogynistic, the racist, and the fanatical paranoia.
There must be radical freedom days to bring the flexibility that fills with riveting excitement. We stand on the brink of tomorrow, a mind-blowing time, where fear and self-hatred must be erased, banned from our world. Alice Walker writes: God is Inside You and Inside Everybody Else.
We must become impervious to traditional fables, mis-interpretation, and the out-right lies that have been heaped on the shoulders of the vulnerable. Women have learned to ignore false bravado, the bellicose sneers, put-downs and negative cowardice. Judith Plaskow writes: Jewish Memory From a Feminist Perspective.
Women are compassionate, industrious, energetic, and mutually complementary. We complete one another in unity. It is not a coincidence that writers like Judith Plaskow, Mary Daly, Elizabeth Johnson, Luce Irigaray, and Elaine Pagels have stepped forward, to lift women up, to urge them to combine energies and talents. This book will clarify awareness. New patterns emerge. Outdated philosophies were distinctly one-sided, and filled with degrading, demoralizing treatment of women. This must change for happiness advancement for all of humanity.
This book is literally an answered prayer -- back in November of 2013, I was feeling discouraged firstly by the vast majority of spiritual books that refer to God as "He" -- and, secondly, by the many purportedly feminist books that call God "She" but describe this female God in "feminine" (hence, stereotypical) terms.
I prayed for a book that would do neither of these, and a few days later, I found this book Weaving The Visions in a FREE library book box, a box of giveaways. I read a bit of it then and there, and realized this book was an answer to my prayer!
It's not easy to rate a book like this, as it's a compilation of articles by many different feminist writers. I have read about half the book, and at least two authors' writings are nothing short of brilliant, as their particular spiritual philosophies are so rarely heard in a world that dichotomizes nearly EVERYTHING -- even God -- in terms of GENDER ("masculine/feminine").
I wanted a book that "personifies" or envisions God as female, yet portrays this female form of God as possessing the FULLNESS of ALL positive qualities, rather than just HALF (i.e., "feminine"). The spiritual concepts of Sallie McFague and Rosemary Radford Ruether do just that. (There are other wonderful contributors to this volume. But these two authors really stand out, for me. After many years of conceiving of God/dess in this way, I have finally found more women whose ideas concur with my own! The brilliant feminists Sonia Johnson and Starhawk seemed to be alone, in this regard. Come to find out that Sonia, Starhawk, and I are not alone, in our conceptualization of God -- I am grateful to have found the theological scholars McFague and Ruether as well!)
McFague sums it up nicely, on page 140: "God should be imagined in female, not feminine, terms, and the female metaphors should be inclusive of but not limited to maternal ones...the distinction between 'female' and 'feminine' is important, for the first refers to gender while the second refers to qualities conventionally associated with women. The problem with introducing a feminine dimension of God is that it invariably ends with identifying as female those qualities that society has called feminine. Thus, the feminine side of God is taken to comprise the tender, nurturing, passive, healing aspects of divine activity, whereas those activities in which God creates, redeems, establishes peace, administers justice, and so on, are called masculine. Such a division, in extending to the godhead the stereotypes we create in human society, further crystallizes and sanctifies them."
The way I see it: God is neither male nor female, but we can envision and personify God as being male and female both. I prefer not to stick God in a stereotypically "genderized" box, however, and -- again -- I am not alone in this regard. We as a species can choose to see God as male, and as being BOTH nurturing and powerful, and we can choose to see God as female, and as being BOTH nurturing and powerful. After all, these are HUMAN qualities -- not "owned" by either sex -- and are equally available to all human beings regardless of one's bodily sex.
We limit ourselves and others when we dichotomize HUMAN qualities into "masculine" (so-called male) and "feminine" (so-called female) categories. Then, reflexively, we create God "in our own image" -- projecting our crippling genderized concepts onto God. (This doesn't hurt GOD in any way, but it DOES hurt us as men and women by reinforcing crippling, stereotyping gender dichotomies that make us "half" people instead of whole people.)
Ruether brilliantly states, on page 154: "We should guard against concepts of divine androgyny that simply ratify on the divine level the patriarchal split of the masculine and the feminine. In such a concept, the feminine side of God, as a secondary or mediating principle, would act in the same subordinate and limited roles in which females are allowed to act in the patriarchal social order. The feminine can be mediator or recipient of divine power in relation to creaturely reality. She can be God's daughter, the bride of the (male) soul. But she can never represent divine transcedence in all fullness. For feminists to appropriate the 'feminine' side of God within this patriarchal gender hierarchy is simply to reinforce the problem of gender stereotyping on the level of God-language. We need to go beyond the idea of a 'feminine' side of God....and question the assumption that the highest symbol of divine sovereignty still remains exclusively male."
This is what I would like to see: A world in which ALL human beings are equally represented and valued, in ways both secular and spiritual/religious.
I prayed for a book that would brilliantly articulate some of my own aspiring concepts about God -- and God/dess sent me this book. When I found this book in the free box, I knew it was no coincidence -- I felt (and still feel) validated in my divine quest by nothing less than Spirit Itself, who perfectly answered my prayer for spiritual encouragement.